When DD's Not Enough

Regular readers have no doubt noticed a sharp decline in the frequency at which new articles appear on this blog. My apologies.

The truth is, I haven't written because I've been reluctant to face what's most on my mind these days with regard to Domestic Discipline (DD).

A few months back, I wrote a post questioning whether a relationship is real if the only thing holding it together is DD. ("If DD is the glue, do the parts really fit?")

At the time, I concluded that the answer was yes, because for a relationship to thrive, what was required was trust and communication, and something, be it DD or a more traditional method, has to provide a framework for that trust and communication or the relationship won't survive.

I'm no longer at all sure of that position.

Back in March, Bonnie posed the question on "My Bottom Smarts" as to whether you'd leave a relationship if the other person wasn't interested in DD. But it's the opposite question that's on my mind now. Do I stay in a relationship that seems to be fundamentally unhealthy for both parties just to keep DD in my life?

As many of you know, my partner and I spend most of our time apart. This isn't for professional reasons, as with many couples. Rather it's because after six years of being together, when our relationship became so difficult and painful we couldn't be in the same room together without hurting each other, I left. And he agreed that I should leave.

I moved 800 miles away to get some time to think things through and start over. Ironically, once I did leave, the pressure was off, and we had the time and space to find each other again -- largely through an exploration of DD -- both through extended phone and email conservations about our expectations from a DD relationship, and then during the extended times we've been together in the last year.

As with many couples, things improved rapidly for us when DD became part of our lives. Almost overnight it seemed, we went from tears, fighting, accusations and anger to intimacy, love, communication and talk of marriage and life commitment.

But now, our separation is more extended than it has been in the past and since for us at least, DD does not seem to work when we're not physically together, things have fallen apart again in a serious way. Once again, it's hard to believe we're the same two people who were so close last time we were together. I feel as though he's a stranger most of the time, and I don't seem to be able to find back the wonderful person with whom I have such a unique and powerful bond. And I suspect he feels the same way.

When my partner and I added DD to our relationship this time around (we'd tried it before, but that's another article!), we realized we had a lot of clearing the air work to do. To accomplish this, we did the traditional "clearing the slate" ritual -- an extended, intense disciplinary session meant to expunge the hurts and betrayals of the past and start us on a new, healthier path together.

This ritual was helpful, to some extent. That level of ritual pain is powerful and it can't help but be cleansing in many ways. But the reality is that one afternoon of DD, no matter how intense and emotional, isn't going to erase years of mistrust, hurt, anger and miscommunication. That's not realistic, but more the stuff of romantic DD fantasy. Also significant is that the slate clearing was about me making up for what I did. We have yet to find an effective, DD-themed mechanism for making up for what he did -- one of the potential flaws of a traditional DD relationship. (see "When I'm Angry")

No matter how many spankings are given or how much time is spent in the corner, at some point in a relationship, you have to sit down across the table from the other person and talk with them about what's going on between you. And that's where the problem is, at least for us.

The truth is that neither my partner nor I are particularly good at communicating with each other about our feelings. (except where DD is concerned) When we talk about the issues in our past, I get emotional; he withdraws. I get more emotional because he withdraws; he withdraws even more. And so it goes.

And as a result, nothing really gets resolved between us. This lack of closure and resolution is why DD is such a welcome change for us. No leaving things to simmer and fester -- a spanking clears the air and gets us back on the right track.

But spankings now don't seem to help us with things in the past. And for us, there is a lot of pain in the past. Big Pain. Not "don't leave the toilet seat up" kind of pain, but big, Lifetime Movie of the Week pain. A sticky, seemingly bottomless pit of mistrust, anger and hurt that I'm not sure can be cleared up with any method, DD or otherwise.

My new answer then, to whether a relationship is legitimate if the only thing holding it together is DD is, sadly, probably not.

It may be that for DD to work as it's intended, it has to start from a place of trust and communication, rather than standing in as a substitute for those things. It may be that trying to use DD to rescue a relationship full of pain and anger and miscommunication is like putting a band-aid on an infected wound. It covers it up, but it doesn't make the wound go away.

And so I've been contemplating the possibility that's breaking my heart: That this wonderful, beautiful relationship that feels so right, so complete and so safe in so many ways (in many ways beyond DD) may not be the right one after all.

And with that, of course, comes the fear that I may never find anyone else again who understands this need in me as completely as my current partner does. I may find someone else willing to spank me, sure. Easy enough. But as we all know, DD is much, much more than that. Will I be able to find someone else with such a solid grasp of the psychology involved on both sides of a DD relationship? Who understands why living this way is so important to me and what my life experience was that made it so? Who comes to DD with such exquisite sensititivity and respect for my personhood? Doubtful. But possible.

Even more than the obvious heartbreak of losing my partner and all the wonderful parts of our relationship when it's working, it's devastating for me to think of forever losing a chance at being the person that I am when DD is working. The sense of empowerment and confidence. The feeling of finding my truest feminine self in a way that I haven't found anywhere else. To give that up terrifies me and keeps me hanging in, trying to make this work long past the point where I probably should have realized it's not going to.

If he asked me to marry him today, would I say yes, despite the ongoing problems, despite that murky tar pit of Big Pain in our past? Probably -- almost certainly -- yes. And that scares me even more. That I want and need DD in my life so much, and that I'm so afraid this is my only chance at having it, that I'd be willing to make a lifelong commitment to a relationship that's so fundamentally flawed just to keep it. Yikes.

15 comments:

  1. Your post is tremendously saddening. But it's an eye-opener for those who are living the delusion (NOT YOU) that DD IS a cure-all for the ills of a relationship with problems outside those being handled regularly by the DD itself. Please recognize that anything I say is strictly my own opinion and worth the paper it's written on ...

    I've long felt that long-distance DD relationships tend not to work, because while the DD itself will work, you don't get the chance to work on the everyday life trials and tribulations that we need to in order to keep a relationship going. Who takes out the garbage? Who makes dinner on Thursday when you've worked late? Can you listen when the day he's had has been hell, but his story is dull as dishwater? What about when the bills have piled up, or a child has screamed for three nights straight? No doubt these don't all apply to you, but you understand my feeling.

    In the past when I've given any comments on my website to women who are actively seeking DD relationships, I'm frightened at how many go out to find that aspect in a man first, and other aspects of his personality second. For me (and this is strictly my opinion) it's inherently backwards, even though it's something that's so important to us. What about honesty, integrity, kindness, and hardworking men? I've seen young women preyed upon by older men who are looking for helpless children they can subjugate for their own pleasure, as opposed to those they can help live better lives, and it scares me senseless. No, I don't put you in that category.

    You have such a good head on your shoulders; I'm sorry you're in this situation. Maybe if you two were living together again, working on this, it would work better; if DD could be a daily lifestyle instead of occasional occurrence, maybe things would have worked out. Or, alternatively, maybe they would have crashed and burned a long time ago without it. It's something to think about.

    I wish I had something concrete to offer you. I occasionally lost the DD in the early times of our DD relationship and it was devastating. Losing the relationship would be more than I could take at this point.

    I offer you whatever wishes I can, in whatever form I can. I don't know what they mean to you, as we're "virtual" strangers, but my heart does hold some pain for you, as this has to be a wretched, wretched time in your life. I wish you a clear mind and heart in making your decision.

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  2. In reading this post again, I feel I came across as condescending; I really didn't mean to. The feelings I most wanted to project were empathy and understanding and I don't think I got that through, and I'm sorry.

    M

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  3. You did just fine, Meggy. These are among the most difficult and challenging issues in human psychology, and you articulate them well.

    Thanks for posting!

    -Viv

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  4. I don't know if this will help or worsen your distress. The evolution of DD (or bDDsm as we refer to it)has been on-going for the almost 6 decades that has been my life. I've struggled through terrific difficulties to get to where I am, in a loving poly V triad intentional family that integrates aspects of M/s, D/s, and DD. We three are also educated, politically active and progressive, and feminists.

    I was in a marriage for well over 20 years that lacked any satisfaction of my sensual/erotic orientation (yes, I believe that DD is at it's base a form of erotic expression.) I struggled to maintain it because I "believd in marriage", feared financial ruin (which I expereinced when we divorced and I've lived through it), feared for my kids (they've been fine), feared the loss of my active fatherhood (it was a huge loss but the grief has become more manageable), and was concerned that social stigma would be way difficult (I no longer care.)

    I've had relationships to with DD dynamics, gloriously co-dependent spanking fetish powerexchanges, with women I had not much else in common with.

    For me my worst nightmare is that I would ever return to have to spend even one day in one of those previous relationships--either my marriage or single dimensionaly DD relationship.

    Getting to where I am in my life took too long, was painful and expensive, but I am so glad that I was able to finally become who I am, to have found our family, and occasionally additional friends with whom we share this orientation and bond.

    I don't know you. If I've learned anything, it is that no one knows what another should do.

    All I have to offer is my experience.

    I hope it helps in some way

    Tom

    Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

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  5. Anonymous23:40

    I almost never post on blogs so I will stay anon rather than get an identity with google.

    However I am a female in a long distance DD relationship -- AND we also run a business between us -- long distance (successful). We see each other maybe every 3 or 4 months.

    I think it is all in the expectations. I've raised a family, I dont need or want another marriage, what I want is the companionship of someone who understands and the support of someone who is in my court (and I in his). DD works for us and works well but the relationship is the work.

    Emotional honesty cant really be pushed by DD. It is not feelings "on demand." That is the main hurdle. I think you are very right to look at the relationship separately from DD.

    I might say -- tho it sounds cynical-- that most likely if you let this one go you will find another -- with almost the same set of problems to work through (slight variations on the same themes.)

    I've found that in deep relationships the same stuff comes up. You can change players but the life /growth issues remain and are either addressed or. . .transfered and then pushed to the surface again. So the question is. . .who do you want to work with? And will they keep present with you and continue (as much as is realistic in the context of life full of dirty socks and bills to pay).

    By the way -- though it probably sounds ridiculous -- my DD partner spanks me over the phone -- I self spank to his instructions as he listens and guides when we are apart. He also makes use of other punishments including corner time. A lot of what we work on is not directly relationship stuff but things I've asked for help on in my life. Since it is at a distance I could fake a lot of it or use silence to obscure but I don't.

    I used to be too embarassed to admit the "phone spankings." But it is what stands in for us over the distance. And has helped.

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  6. Anonymous07:58

    Vivian I was very moved by this last post, and have thought abut it for several days. I do not ever post on bogs, but I make an exception here, partly because I have been so very moved and inspired by your thoughtful blog, and partly because I so respect your honestly and feel for your struggle in this one.

    "Do I stay in a relationship that seems to be fundamentally unhealthy for both parties just to keep DD in my life?"

    If it is fundamentally unhealthy, I think you already know the answer to that...of course you cannot. But, I am not sure that you are sure that this is the case. You seem to have mixed feelings about whether it is fundamentally unhealthy, or whether it is that some fundamental things need to change.

    "But the reality is that one afternoon of DD, no matter how intense and emotional, isn't going to erase years of mistrust, hurt, anger and miscommunication. That's not realistic, but more the stuff of romantic DD fantasy."


    You are right that is not realistic. Dd is a method, a medicine that can facilitate healing, but it does not take the place of the healing itself. That is where the Dd can open the doors, help establish enough trust so the harder emotional work and growth can take place.

    "at some point in a relationship, you have to sit down across the table from the other person and talk with them about what's going on between you."

    Exactly. You have to do the work to get through the issues. No amount of spanking is going to magically make bad feelings go away. It is the communication that occurs before, during and after the spanking that does that. In my opinion Dd can be the spring board into a more loving and intimate relationship by opening doors for you to walk through. You still have to choose to make the journey through the doors, both of you. The journey will involve that sitting across that table from each other and talking, it might involve couples therapy. Whatever it takes.

    "A sticky, seemingly bottomless pit of mistrust, anger and hurt that I'm not sure can be cleared up with any method, DD or otherwise."

    I don't know if your issues can or cannot be cleared up. I know that after a 22 yr marriage and more pain and mistrust than most can imagine, my husband and I are back together and more emotionally intimate than we have ever been in the 27 yrs of being together. The key was what I described above. We began our Dd journey 18 months ago. With Dd as a structure, and a whole heck of a lot of work together, and each of us on ourselves separately, we have done it. Relationships between bright, dynamic and very different people are never easy. The real question is how badly do you both want it, and are you both willing to change?

    "It may be that for DD to work as it's intended, it has to start from a place of trust and communication, rather than standing in as a substitute for those things."

    I do not think either are exactly on the money. It is lovely if it starts from a place of trust and communication, but I think it rarely does, and does not have to. It certainly is not in any way workable as a substitution for those things. One of the issues I have recently thought about in my own marriage is that trust is really a decision. At some point you have to take a leap of faith. You have to say I will stop trying to defend and protect myself, I will stop insisting that I need to be right, I will make being happy with my partner my number one goal. I also had to learn true forgiveness, and to stop trying to asses if my husband was worthy of my trust. If he is, (my husband, your partner)then let it go and get on with the rest of your life. Stop holding him hostage to things you supposedly resolved and got past. You have to let it go to move forward, and that is within your power to do or to not do (and mine too, of course. This has been a process, and one I continue to work on. Of course that is a catch 22, because you have to already have some modicum of trust to say that, but I think it is a two steps forward and one step back kind of process. Ultimately, when all is said and done, it takes a leap of faith. Relationships, love, is at heart a spiritual journey I think. It is finding a higher self within to put forth the best parts of you to meet the best arts of your partner to form a union of the two of you together that is greater than the sum of it's parts. This is not for the feint of heart! It takes commitment, hard work, and sometimes a blind leap of faith.

    "And so I've been contemplating the possibility that's breaking my heart: That this wonderful, beautiful relationship that feels so right, so complete and so safe in so many ways (in many ways beyond DD) may not be the right one after all."

    So the question is, is the relationship "fundamentally unhealthy" or what you wrote above? Only you can answer that. I do believe if there is more good than bad, and you are both committed to the fight of your lives to make it work, you can have it all. I know because I did it. It will be the hardest thing you have ever done, and the both of you have to be honest with yourselves and each other. How you do this from 800 miles away, I have no clue. I think you have to be together to repair a relationship in the way you describe you want to. It seems the two of you have lots of thinking to do. I wish you luck and love. Lauren

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  7. I stayed 28 years in a marriage that was "fundamentally" flawed -- and there weren't BIG things that someone looking in from outside might have seen. It was more the "water dripping on rock" kind of flawed that eventually eroded the relationship to the point where I knew I could not continue to pretend anymore.

    Very late in the game, he and I tried to incorporate DD. That probably extended things by a year and a half. It gave me the sense that there was some hope, but it couldn't cure the underlying issues.

    I don't know what hurts and disappointments you are trying to encompass as you ask these questions at this point. I do know that contemplating ending a relationship that you "know" in order to take a chance on some unknown possibility in the future can be an intimidating decision. I would not presume to advise you on this, or know which is the best decision for you. I do know that, for me, ending the "wrong" relationship opened the door for the right relationship to blossom into being.

    I wish you all the best.

    swan

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  8. Anonymous02:30

    Dear Vivian,

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us it must be painful for you.

    Any long-distance relationship is hard, and if the distance was created deliberately as you say, then the difficulties which provoked it must have been very bad indeed.

    I feel deeply for you. My situation is similar in some superficial ways in that we also don't communicate well, she gets emotional and I withdraw.
    We do not do DD, or erotic spanking, sometimes not even sex, and that is a difficulty for me, so I too must look at all the other ways in which my wife is wonderful and count my blessings. I cannot rely on sex to hold us together and more than you can rely on DD.

    I admire your realism about DD, and incidentally, you are the first I have seen mention the flaw. "We have yet to find an effective, DD-themed mechanism for making up for what he did -- one of the potential flaws of a traditional DD relationship."

    Perhaps DD is just a Band-Aid which covers up the problems whilst the healing takes place. If that is so, then there needs to be an engine for the healing, and I don't know what that is if not honest communication.

    Sorry I can't be helpful, I don't know you and all I can do is sympathise, which I do, greatly.


    Best wishes

    Ollie aka opb

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  9. Thanks for your kind words, Ollie (and everyone else who has responded to this post and emailed so honestly and generously)

    With regard to the issue of what I see as DD's biggest flaw re: addressing his inappropriate or unkind behavior, I wanted to take a moment to refer you to the post "When I'm Angry"I'm for a fuller discussion of this issue.

    Thanks again for posting. An update soon on how things are progressing!

    -Viv

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  10. I am so moved and impressed with the honesty and authenticity of your post. I am left with a deep sense of sadness for you both. DD or not, when a relationship is deeply flawed and causing harm emotionally and spirtually to either partner then the questions you ask yourself are imperative,of course.

    Living through several relationships and a failed marriage all of which had aspects of DD or D/s I have come to believe that a relationship (DD or not) cannot live on fetish interests/common lifestyle beliefs alone.

    The fundamentals of a healthy intimate relationship remain the same; DD or not: trust,love, honor,respect,loyalty,and positive regard must be present for the relationship to exist in a healthy way for both partners.

    I feel terrible for you and your situation in this relationship as it is obvious you truly care for this person.

    Sending healing energy and empathy your way-
    Veronica Daniels

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  11. Lars20:27

    Dear Vivian,

    I will start by quoting from your most excellent post:

    "Will I be able to find someone else with such a solid grasp of the psychology involved on both sides of a DD relationship? Who understands why living this way is so important to me and what my life experience was that made it so? Who comes to DD with such exquisite sensititivity and respect for my personhood? Doubtful. But possible."

    Possible, yes. Experience has shown me that the probability is very small. Given that; I am moved to ask: If he understands you and your needs so well, is this relationship truly flawed?

    I do not make light of the communication problem: he is withdrawing, and you become more emotional. Go to the root cause, never mind the DD (DD will not solve a communication problem), and solve the problem: why is he withdrawing?

    You have such a wonderful insight
    into the human condition; I have every confidence that you will figure it out.

    I wish you both the best.

    Lars

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  12. Anonymous13:20

    I'm new to all this but just had to comment. I feel like I've been there right where your at and I've been married 21 yrs but with him for the past 29 yrs and not all good years at that. Everyone has flaws and when they come together it can take years to work out and years to overcome the hurt that we cause each other during this process. You know where your at and what you need work at that and let him fix him. We've been down the road of mistrust, infidelity, the most horrible acts of hate ever and I'm so ashamed of it all but after the first 10yrs and almost breaking it off several times we've been able to come back and actually communicate all our hurts and actually feel the love again. It is possible you either have to want it or not you know what your heart is telling you. I'm thankful that at the times I was ready to call it quits he was doing the trying and holding us together and when he was wanting out I was good with him. Oh and we just now started a DD relationship so we never had that to fall back on and all this time I was wanting it and he was wanting to be it we just didn't know how to say it to each other. If only we knew to communicate long ago we would never have done half the things we did to each other. I wish you all good things however it comes out for the both of you.

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  13. You're right, Anonymous, and I know all of us who struggle with the realization that DD has to rest on a foundation of trust and can't solve underlying problems really appreciate your words of hope and inspiration!

    I hope you'll keep reading and contributing.

    Warmest,
    Viv

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  14. Dionysius13:55

    In a good relationship, I think you have to leave your ego outside the door. You have to remember that for the couple to be happy, both partners have to be happy, and so you have to make your partner's happiness within the relationship to be one of your major goals. DD may be an important shared activity, but I don't see how it can substitute for always treating each other with respect and love. As for you, Viv, and your relationship with your partner, I suspect that if it fails, you should be able to find a new partner with whom you can share DD, among other things. You just sound like such a thoughtful, interesting, and worthwhile person. Of course, I say this my perspective as strictly an erotic switch, not a practitioner of DD. Anyway, I wish you all the best in resolving your situation. Dionysius

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  15. Anonymous04:59

    Viv,
    I wish I had read this posting earlier. I did not know you were not married to this person.

    No wonder you aren't able to completely surrender to him - you haven't yet surrendered to him by saying "I do." You are holding out the possibility that you might never fully give yourself to this man.

    Well, good for you. Only you will know when the man comes around that you truly want to give yourself to. This isn't the one. And DD will never fully be satisfying to you with a man you can't fully surrender to. There really are plenty of other DD fish in the sea - ones that will truly turn you on because the RELATIONSHIP will be right, and will fill the DD with esquisite treasures that you aren't really getting right now. You have SOME measure of DD fulfillment with him - but until your heart knows that this guy loves you with all his heart and puts you first, you are never truly going to be able to put him totally first and in control of you in such a way that will bring the DD to the epic levels you want it to go.

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